Monday, October 31, 2005
Well another week has slipped by with minimal posts by me. I’m excited about Halloween this year. I’m bringing a 3-year-old vampire door-to-door for treats. I’ll be the vampire hunter with the bandoleer of wooden stakes keeping him under control.
So the last few weeks and probably most of November will be slow for me online. First of all I’m moving on December 1st. Second of all I’m taking part in the NaNoWriMo; and thirdly my parents are coming to visit at some time in November or early December. This and shopping for holiday gifts will be the crux of my month. Comics will officially take the back seat.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
After that underselling let’s get to the load of good books that I picked up this week in alphabetical order.
It’s just hard to follow up the last story arc. This one is not completely bad but not glowingly good either. Green Arrow is poor little rich boy now who seems to be willing to do the opposite of whatever Batman does. Ollie seems to be the new Batzarro. On the other hand Nightwing is again proving how he’s one of the only characters who is following in the traditional manifestation of DC heroes. He’s loyal, he’s upstanding and the Omacs register him as “truth and justice” so you know big things are probably in store for little Dickie Grayson. I’m also happy to see Aquaman in a leadership role. I think that’s a great use of the character.
I rate this story: Bridging the gap so it feels like wasted potential.
JLA: Classified #13
There isn’t much I can say about this issue that won’t be covered elsewhere. Yes the cover art is “unique” and the story may tread familiar territory. That doesn’t take away from how good this story is. This has been right up my alley since day one, even if the first issue in this arc left me feeling deflated, I mean decompressed. Whatever. The action picks up. The JLA works like a team only to be split up for the next book/scene. I like the idea of the devil being a great weapon making itself available for the best warrior of a race. Funny that Superman is not really human. Don’t mention that to anyone by the way.
I rate this story: KABOOM! That was fun.
I want to like this series. I really do. It just feels too much like The Outlaw Josey Wales and Sister Sarah mixed together and cranked to 11. And I’m no prude to be sure but that last scene made me want to take a shower. I’m seeing a lot of potential here that just needs to have the kinks worked out.
I rate this story: Man the west was grim and dirty.
Solo #7 – Michael Allred
Now that’s what I’m talking about! My head is still reeling from this book and it made me use an exclimation point (or two). It was freaking awesome! Only, why does my cover have Wonder Girl on it and not Batman doing the Batusie? (see comments for explination - it apparently refers to the Teen Titans story - duh?). This is pretty much my perfect comic as far as mixing memories with current sensibilities is concerned. I need to catch my breath and write some more specifics on this.
…One minute later…
Okay, I don’t know every last detail for the characters used here (I’m still a relative newbie returner to comics) but this collection gives you a great campy take on them. I instantly knew what their powers were, etc. There is some great black humour here. I appreciate that as much as avant garde humour. This book has both in spades. Allred knows the characters’ histories and plays with form as much as with style. Batman A-Go-Go is an obvious favourite but the Fourth World Wager was pretty damn funny.
I rate this story: Batmite. Fucking Batmite!
Young Avengers #8
I like the riff on the after-school “don’t do drugs intervention” special going on in this book. Although I’m glad I picked up a few issues I think I’m done with teen drama for a while. This is a really well done book and I think there is a crapload of potential for these characters but I’m just not interested in this sort of story at the moment. I don’t know why. I look at all the aspects here and they look good on paper but something about this book is leaving me flat. I like the retro Mr. Hyde, I like that these kids have more believable motives than most of the older heroes, there’s some great interplay among them as well as a young gay couple who aren’t treated like lepers. I’m hoping this is just a feeling I’m getting because of the weather. I’ll probably buy the next issue in a month. I’m just hoping Marvel has the balls to really do some compelling stories with these kids. If not, I’m gone.
I rate this story: Action packed but losing it’s hold on me.
Monday, October 24, 2005
At the end of July and beginning of August my girlfriend and I went on vacation to London and Paris. For the trip over I decided to pick up two books to read so I chose the first trade paperbacks of Y the Last Man and The Amazing Joy Buzzards. I’ll post about Y the Last Man some other time. And with the second volume of The Amazing Joy Buzzards recently on the shelves I figured I’ll post on them.
How I heard about The Amazing Joy Buzzards was completely the internet’s doing. It seems every single review I read was along the lines of “I came to this series late but wow is it ever good” or “Man-o-man am I glad I bought this trade.” That type of thing plus a mention of Scooby-Doo. Now I know why there is the Scooby-Doo comparison but I don’t really see it too much. Yes these are both groups of young people solving crimes or mysteries or whatever but I didn’t see the connection. For me I did love Scooby-Doo cartoons when they were on after my elementary school day but they just don’t hold up for me anymore. I love my memories of them more than the actual show itself. But that isn’t the point of this post. I guess there just aren’t a lot of young cartoony mystery solvers in the pop cultural conscience to compare this book to.
For me there were a few other connections that I thought were a bit more tangible. Now, I know I said I don’t like lists but I seem to be creating a lot these days so I guess my opinion is changing.
Fantastic Four – I mean c’mon pseudo-science, a group dynamic and a fantasticar/go-go jet.
Jem and the Holograms – Pop-stars leading a double life as do-gooders.
G.I. Joe – Didn’t the Dreadnoks love donuts?
Gorillaz – Uber-hip artwork. One band plagued by zombies and a spectral rapper that lives in one of their heads. The other band plagued by robots, evil-doers, Hollywood producers and a spectral Mexican wrestler that lives in their collective consciousness.
Then there were all the bands that this book brought to mind. Gorillaz obviously but I was also hearing The Beatles, especially Revolver. There was some Rolling Stones because of the whole rock rebellion mixed with pop poseur feel about both of them. The Buzzcocks because of the names and because both rock out loud. And I think Steve-o is really meant to be Stevie Ramone.
I know that it appears I’m creating a site that promotes Black and White comics but that really is unintentional. There is a bit of colour used in the first story of this book but I found it distracting. I think the idea with the pink was sound but it probably should have been saved for a later story. I know it was meant to be used like the splashes of colour in Frank Miller’s Sin City stories that use colour but it didn’t seem to be all that controlled here. I have a feeling that when these characters become second nature to the creators we’ll see the return of the pink robot with a brilliant “colour” story. I like to think that it was this story that has influenced the current hipness of pink as a colour for men. I mean Tony Blair has a pink tie now.
I like that this collection is a nuts and bolts approach with a few extras thrown in for good measure. You can either dismiss the introduction or appreciate the honesty of it. The creators decided not to pretty up their original work which I think lends it a lot of charm. I’m sure that will allow a few people to dismiss them as lazy but I like to see the work, flaws and all. There is something about this book that reminds of modern art. People look at it and think (sometimes say out loud) “I can do that.” This is rarely ever the case because if you could, you would. I like when artwork is deceptively easy. Good work always is. The Amazing Joy Buzzards has it in spades. It has a charming and simple look that makes anyone who sees it feel they too can become a funny book creator. The introduction saying that the work is presented bare bones helps keep that notion alive. Hey, I took the test, I’m a true punk. I can appreciate that keeping it real thing.
Like all good books this felt like it was over way too soon. I got immersed and was having a riot good time and it was over all too soon. Then, like comics of yore, there was a pin-up section at the back. I remember the days before rear-cover advertisements were essential for comics and this does a great job of bringing that good memory back. I only wish there was a Jamie Hewlitt piece in the collection.
The big question I keep asking myself is why do I keep thinking this book is “charming”? What the heck to I mean by that? Well, I sat back and had a coffee and that didn’t work. So I went home, had a few beers and that didn’t work. Then waited a few more months and finally mulled an answer out of myself. It isn’t the indie spirit that makes this book work. While that helps, a lot, it isn’t the driving force. I think this book is charming because there is way more to it than at first glance. There are depths there that are glossed over on purpose to make it lighter fare on first glance. I know that a lot of people, myself included, think that sometimes things get overanalyzed. I had a roommate who once said “sometimes yoghurt is just yoghurt” but I don’t think that’s the case here.
There is a love for the medium pure and simple. The way the Joy Buzzards interact is a clever homage to the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four. They have human reactions to their situations. They are vain, shy, awkward and jealous but ultimately they love and respect each other. They understand that they work better together; that the sum of the whole is greater than the parts. While they are being duped on one level they are getting mounds of success through their deal with C.I.A. They aren’t as naïve as they appear. In a lot of ways this is a spiritual successor to the original Fantastic Four stories. It is an homage without being blatant about it just like Shakespeare’s Hamlet is pretty much Euripides' Electra (I think). It is a return to something familiar but presented in a new setting. While the details are different the feeling you get from both is really similar.
I find it extremely clever that a book about pop culture has that extra bit that makes it worth a second look. If the product was exactly what it comments upon this book would be more or less disposable after you read it. It isn’t. It has that extra layer that makes you want to go back to it and enjoy it again. It has that cleverness that made the first Matrix movie a pop culture phenomenon. If this book was only glossy entertainment it would be like the sequel Matrix movies. There is a little something under the surface of shiny indie polish that makes me want to keep coming back to these stories. There is something there beyond the fun-lite exterior it presents itself as. This band has chops. Enjoy what they do.
The Amazing Joy Buzzards Volume 2 #1 is on shelves as of last Wednesday. Do yourself a favour and pick it up. But only if you like fun hip comics with a flavour of super-heroes.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
On an interesting note she just ordered what I think is probably the most original combination of genres I've seen in a long time: Undead and Unwed. Vampires and chic lit. Kudos!
Picked up Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #2, Justice #2, Amazing Joy Buzzards Season 2 #1.
I liked all of them equally. This is the first every Green Lantern books I've bought and I'm glad it's this sorry. I like where the idea is going and how it's being executed. I'm only halfway through the Amazing Joy Buzzards because I had a really busy day yesterday. I loved the first trade and I really want to spend some quality time with this book. Apparently I'm supposed to hate Justice and make fun of the art but I love it.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
1) Anti-matter kicks matters ass. If there was ever a prize fight between Matter and Anti-matter and I was a betting man, I’d bet on Anti-matter because it is always the clear favourite. I don’t care where it’s used it always seems to be way more powerful than its apparent equal – matter. If matter were a person it would be joe-average or an everyman like John Myers in the Hellboy movie where Anti-matter is Rasputin or Hellboy. No contest.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if these things are equal and balanced why doesn’t matter ever wipe out the anti-matter universe? I know that’s sort of what happens in the end but you don’t see matter wiping out anti-matter universe after anti-matter universe. I guess I’m thinking about this too much and I know I’m not the audience this story was originally written for but I’ve sort of always felt this way since I can remember. That would be a story. Seeing the crisis from the other side where our universe starts wiping out the anti-matter equivalent and having anti-heroes fight for their survival.
2) I really miss villains who call people “dolts.” If there was slang that I’d reintroduce into common parlance I think “dolt” would be on the top of my list. I also like them calling people the following: Fools, ignoramuses, chattel, insignificant specks.
3) I remember the Jonah Hex of the future comics. Well, I remember one that my friend had where he fought these guys who drove large wheels or maybe he teamed up with them. It was cool nonetheless and I drew it in my notebooks for about a month after that.
4) I don’t really get what happened to Barry Allen. I know it was a heroic death but it’s like he just ran fast and died. Why didn’t he run around fast and just pull bolts out of the machine until it crumbled? It was cool and all but I was sort of confused. I still hope they keep him dead though. Don’t let me down DC, I’ve heard rumours.
5) Red heads used to sort of freak me out and finding out Lex Luthor is a red head hasn’t done good things for my perceptions.
6) I like big sprawling cross-overs with lots of heroes and villians. I like to be intrigued and introduced to a whack load of people but I like the dialogue to reflect that. After a while I realized that if you’re in the new DCU you’re allowed to feel either helpless, resolved or influenced by Supergirl.
7) I like when heroes and villains are forced to team up and work for a common goal. I’d like to see the repercussions of this sort of thing explored a bit more. Think about someone you can’t stand at school or work then imagine you’re trapped in a burning building with this person. You help each other get out. What happens between the two of you from then on? Now add the ability to shoot lasers from you fingertips and for them to freeze things with their eyes. That’s potential for drama if I've ever seen it. (okay the freezing would help get out of the burning building but that’s all I could come up with right now – gimme a break).
Monday, October 17, 2005
1) You have at least five volume levels for screaming in print. The simple exclamation point Pariah, page 63 “Where am I? I need to know!” There is the ALL CAPS SCREAM! like The Spectre on page 293 “I DARE, CRUEL ONE!” There is the ALL CAPS yet stylized scream usually reserved for a vowel sound but also used for general screaming. See Green Arrow on page 344 his “AGHH!” is stylized. Then there is the ALL CAPS stylized scream in colour. This type of scream is also meant to be your general sound effect but you can also use it for names like Mera on page 343 “LORI!” and negativity like Wally West on page 341 “NO!”. There’s also the more sound effecty version on page 34 where Flower shouts “YAAGGH” in a magenta sort of red colour. But you know the most important yelling is done by the Barry Allen Flash because it’s in blue. P. 233 “NEVER AGAIN!”
2) Animal Man has my favorite line “Well, cut my calories and call me skinny.” I really need to pick up those Animal Man trades now.
3) I have a photocopier that doubles as a scanner so I have a terrible image here. But who is this guy riding a giraffe? He is now officially the lamest hero/villain I know. A giraffe? Sure they’re endangered and all but technically isn’t the giraffe saving him? Okay, I guess the giraffe can’t point with a finger like that, but c’mon! (I'll post a better image if I find one).
Otherwise I’ve been enjoying it (more or less) but I think The Absorbascon and The Low Road are already saying most things I want to. If only I had a few extra hours in my days…
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Villains United #6
Granted I'm not a continuity whore so I've missed out on some of this series but it is by far the best of the minis leading up to Infinite Crisis (although I've only read 3 of the 4 so Day of Vengeance isn’t in my judgment call here). I really like Gail Simone’s characterization and action packed plotlines. I think she could write a phone book and I’d enjoy it. This series should be given to anyone out there who needs to write a mini that leads up to a major event. It is just done with a panache that really works on a book solely about villains. There’s nobody to root for but you still root for them. I like how this series is really a veiled comment on current superhero comics – we’re cheering for the lesser of two evils really. Sure this is a blood soaked story but it feels much less like “shocking death of the month syndrome” than has been presented elsewhere. These are killers who are killing each other. It’s done in a pretty icky way but that’s what I’m sure we’re meant to feel instead of blasé about the whole ordeal. The revelations were all done well as was the conclusion. I like the revamps, ah heck, this was just a great story even if it was a bit too gory at times for my personal tastes.
I rate this story: Let the pleading for a regular series begin all over the internet now. C’mon, you all know it was coming and didn’t want chime up and agree in public.
It seems I can only get the even numbered books of this series. What the fuck it up with that? I’m enjoying the series. I like the art. I like the characters. I like the séance Scioli must have performed to get infused with the spirit of Kirby. I really don’t want to wait for the trade on this series but I may have to if I can’t pick it up monthly. To me, this is what a monthly comic was, is and should be. Fun, directed at me, and mature in a weirdly old-fashioned arcing into a past that reminds me of the comics of my childhood kind of way. I don’t completely get why I like this series so much, but I do and I’ll buy it when I find it.
I rate this story: Pure fun.
Infinite Crisis #1
Admit it, you're not shocked to see this here are you?
At first I was interested then sort of weary but then I was excited when I realized it was coming out today. I don’t care if I’m supposed to hate this series and see the destruction of comics and our real world here – I like this book. I never read the original crisis (I may pick up the trade) and I was almost turned off of these cross-over things but my fears evaporated when I opened this up. I’m fine not knowing what’s going on from the start but I trust G. Johns to write a fine story and to bring his audience up to speed. I like the ending that leaves me going “Wwwhhhaaaa?” because I’m excited to see where this is going. This is like a love letter to the medium and to us as the readers. At worse it could have been awkward and embarrassing to read but what it shows is that even the creators are sharing in our concerns and are trying to get out of their own funk. I truly enjoyed this story when a few weeks ago I was hoping to, at best, just read it and not be disappointed. I’m glad I won’t be going into comics with that feeling anymore but time will tell I suppose. I think today was a good day to get some enjoyment, happiness and fun back in my life.
I rate this story: Blowing the stink off of the DCU.
The Crisis of Conscience was good and the fallout continues. That’s the Hollywood pitch for this issue. It’s sort of weird that I read JLA: Year One about a month ago and to see it come up left right and centre these days. On a side note for anyone who remembers they weren’t too nice to the original Blue Beetle in that series either so this crapping on Blue Beetles isn’t new if you want to be cynical. Do you feel like Batman needs to get a thesaurus or something? I do, he just can’t seem to find the words to explain himself these days. There’s a lot of undercurrents but I feel like I want to shred this book, put it on the stove and boil it down to a much more concentrated form. I want to shake it and get everyone to explain what the heck is going on because I can’t read emotions and undercurrents. On the other hand I’m happy to see Aquaman being heroic and a leader. Maybe all those years of more or less being ignored he will be the great white hope for heroes.
I rate this story: Abra-ca-blab-ra.
Also picked up Ex Machina #15 and The Goon 25 cent special. Never read The Goon before so I’m looking forward to it. I’m also thinking that trying to read these books and post comments during my lunch break isn’t the most conducive for reading, processing and writing. I’ll try to get more up here later.
Why haven't I bought a Marvel comic in like, forever? I really have nothing against them. I have no idea what's up with that. Weird.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Ah, hindsight, you are wonderful. If anyone out there has any idea on where I can find something. I'd very much appreciate it.
Oh, right comics. This was meant to be a blog about comics. Um, I really can't wait for Infinite Crisis despite everything. I actually think it will be fun and I don't really care what the outcome is until it's done - then I'll have an opinion whether you want to hear it or not.
Me and my spouse/girlfriend/partner (whatever she is), have been housesitting for over a week now. Neither of us have slept well in this time so like a deer I'm distracted by shiney objects now. Oooh, coffee mugs! We're there for somewhat serious reasons but also because these people have two cats. I've always been indifferent to cats because I was allergic to them growing up (deathly allergic but I grew out of it). In this time I've decided I am not a cat person nor will I ever be. I went on a date once with a girl who sort of acted like these cats and I left like the building was on fire.
So Thanksgiving comes around and I have this great Hamilton Squash recipe, a chicken ready for baking and a tomatoe and feta pie. But because I'm not used to the house I screwed up the oven timer rig-a-ma-jig and it didn't cook squat.
It's been a really craptacular week so this site went to pot. Still, I got to watch a lot of baseball and more hockey than I've watched in a long, long time (the Senators are still undefeated and beat the Leafs twice in shoot-outs. Exciting stuff). And I'm happy for Vladimir Guerro and the Angels.
Comics Stuff: I read both Batman: Gotham County Line and Fantastic Four and Iron Man: Big in Japan. These books have two things in common: I liked both of them plus the cardstock for the covers. Other than that I can't really think of two more different comics. Bright and light compared to dark and gritty. I've been thinking a lot about this Batman story and I can't help but compare it to the Batman: The Animated Series since I'm watching that as it comes in the mail. I do like that this story is mixing the realism with the fun aspects of the Batman. But when he's being portrayed overly realistic the fun parts just become hokey. I like the jet-pack. I wish I had one. But when the content is so dark and presented in a realistic manner it jars the story. Put him on a motorbike if you want realism and darkness. Jetpacks and automatic cape rollers are just too much fun for a story about serial killers and the undead.
Friday, October 07, 2005
You don't tolerate shit. The .45 you carry in you pocket is scary, but your words are the real threat, especially when you decide to get Biblical. Try to take it easy, but maintain that edge of yours, which tends to keep people wary in your presence.
Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Powers #13 - Brian Bendis, Michael Oeming.
I love this series. Sure I only started reading it when it moved to Icon and even then I only started reading at book five or six, but I still like it. The trades are on my list of things to go back to. Like The Walking Dead I feel like I should starve myself of these stories and just read them in a long uninterrupted sitting. I like the juxtaposition that takes place in this issue. The angry yet socially poignant stand-up comic against the police procedural works here. The message is strengthened by this play between words and images. We’re left wondering about the message of the comedian and his relationship to the manslaughter story. I’m just left wondering who the comedian is based on. I’m hoping Bill Hicks or George Carlin, (heck even Lenny Bruce or Richard Pryor).
I rate this story – About as good as they get.
Detective Comics #812 – David Lapham, Ramon Bachs, Nathan Massengill
For a story with a lot of exposition I really don’t understand a lot of what’s going on anymore. I think it has a lot more to do with my house-sitting and not sleeping in my own bed than this actual story. I like where it’s been and I think I like the bone structure of it but I felt lost. I’m a fan of the undercover Batman and Robin with the cops is a great set piece but I really was confused.
I rate this story – Um, actually I don’t know what to rate it.
Rann-Thanagar War #6 – Dave Gibbons, etc.
Well that really didn’t resolve anything did it? Kind of like the sequel Matrix films. I guess war really is pointless.
I rate this story – Inconclusively epic.
Green Lantern Corps Recharge #1 – Geoff Johns & Dave Gibbons, Patrick Gleason, Christian Alamy & Prentis Rollins.
In a lot of ways this is what I was looking for when I started to buy Rann-Thanagar War. I never read any DC sci-fi comics before and I’m happy to pick this one up. I have next to no history with any of these characters but their introduction and characterization in this book are top-notch. I felt like I got a feel for all the characters and know what their deal is, in one issue. I have no idea what the old Green Lantern Corps was like but this one seems very current. I really like the storytelling and the art here so I’m hoping it doesn’t have a non-ending like most of these other minis coming out from DC. Please give the mystery an ending even if this needs to tie into the super-duper crisis.
I rate this story – Better if you let it age a week.
I’ve also picked up Batman: Gotham County Line #1 and Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan #1 but am saving them for later today.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
I know this is really off topic but I wanted to keep posting and get used to writing again. That was the point of this blog.
So I'm thinking of a few ideas for this book. I'm either doing a satire of the place I work, a dystopian sort of thing, a comedy about death as a part time job, something about kids trying to find Excalibur or a biodegradable soldier. Probably one of the first three though and I'm weary of the political satire idea because I can't remember ever reading a book like that. I'll have to get a good angle.
Anyway, a lot of these ideas I was working into graphic format. Well, eventually I was going to (nervous laughter) when I got up the cahones and time to do so.